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The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future
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The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  429 ratings  ·  56 reviews
It’s Never Too Late to Top Your Personal Best.

Both a riveting account of a life spent pulling off improbable triumphs and a report back from the front of the global-energy and natural-resource wars, The First Billion Is the Hardest tells the story of the remarkable late-life comeback that brought the famed oilman and maverick back from bankruptcy and clinical depression. A
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Crown Business (first published January 1st 2008)
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The book, for me, was a great introduction to T. Boone. After seeing Pickens on commercials and several news spots throughout the recent election, I wanted to know more about his business career and to gain a deeper understanding for the motivation of his "Pickens Plan". The book answered some questions but now I have more than I started with. After a brief history of his business career, the book was a call to action to reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil.

There are staggering facts
Scott Hall
Interesting story of the life and experiences of T. Boone Pickens. The biggest strengths of the book come in the last few chapters in which he discusses recent large ventures in water and wind energy and lays out his plan for a dramatic change in U.S. Energy policy. Though his energy plan is self-serving in that it would shift dependence in the transportation sector from oil to natural gas, an energy source in which his companies are heavily invested, it would benefit the U.S. by shifting demand ...more
Ok, any book that follows one you cherish as I did Sue Miller's work is at a disadvantage. This book had nothing to lose by it's unenviable position in my bedside reading. The book was written by a self-important rich guy. He makes several points: work hard, trust your gut, exercise, donate to charities, and purchase wind turbines. There I just saved you the trouble of reading it. Nothing more in depth than that.

The bit about natural gas fueled vehicles, eh, makes sense when you realize the aut
André Bueno
Very interesting story. Definitely enjoyed the read.
William Redd
The life and many restarts of T. Boone Pickens will hopefully give anyone hope that it's never to late to start over. At 80 years old, he is still starting new projects and enterprises that may not even reach fruition during his lifetime, but he does it because he wants to see it happen, and because it's something that needs to happen.

Starting as a geologist for big oil, Pickens became an oil expert. He made his fortune being able to predict trends and follow it up with innovative ideas. Unlike
Not a huge fan of his philosophy on life. He's good at what he does, but I got the feeling that money is his first priority in life. I'm not sure I believe all the doom and gloom.
My husband got this book for free when Pickens assistant came to his dealership to borrow a car- why the hell does he need to borrow a car? Anyways I am sure Pickens likes reading this as it is a 'look how great I am' account of his rise to being wealthy with horribly boring stats of company start ups and takeovers. I thought he would get into how the 'little people' can help with the energy crisis but again it's 'look how smart I am' in creating new companies with alternative energy sources and ...more
T. Boone Pickens takes a large amount of revisionist personal history (his predictions were invariably right – you just had to wait long enough for them (40 years in one case) to come true), mixes in plenty of filler (including his personal workout schedule down to what days he and his trainer works on his chest) and tries to mold it into some nuggets of management advice. These bits of advice are introduced with Booneisms which are clunky, forgettable little bits of homespun text often involvin ...more
Matt Maples
While I admit that T. Boone Pickens has accomplished a great deal in his career I cannot say that I aspire to emulate his style of leadership. This book has a great many lessons that are worthy of study and replication, but his overall philosophy is strikingly self-centered in my opinion. The most common subject in this book is Pickens and the most common pronouns are me, I and mine. That being said, he is very charitable toward his coworkers and his insights into energy are worthy of further di ...more
I've become very impressed with Boone and his Picken's Plan. I wished the book was more about alternative energy and less about his life as I am not into autobiographies. Nevertheless, it was an interesting read!

Some of the things he proposes in his plan would make even more money for this billionaire. That is all well and good as it would serve the country, also. However, I think his idea of piping electricity from Texas wind farms to both coasts could be done a bit more locally. His plan would
Ostensibly, this is an autobiography of a man whose life has centered around oil and gas, and who has made (and lost) fortunes in those arenas. (One might even hope to find some kind of practical advice on how to become a multimillionaire, but one would be disappointed.) Realistically, however, Mr. Pickens only uses the first dozen chapters to set the reader up for the final message: The United States of America needs to wake up and install leaders that can cut off our dependence on foreign oil. ...more
Wow. Seriously. Pickens is brilliant. He really knows how to make money. And is *reall* detached from regular folks it seems. He talks about having holes in his socks because he is frugal, but he flys his private jet around to make sure he doesn't miss his alma mater's football games.... go figure. More power to him I guess.[return][return]There isn't really a ton for any of us to learn from this book I don't think. However, it is a fascinating look into high finance and wealth.[return][return]I ...more
The first part of the book was a little hard for me to follow. It was the history of T. Boone's 60 year career in 150 pages. It jumped quickly and was written in such simple grammar that it seemed really choppy. After page 150 though it got really interesting as Boone laid out his plan for decreasing our dependency on foreign oil. He's made a lot of money from oil but at age 80 he's still working and realizes the importance of investing time and money in different energy sources. He has windfarm ...more
Dec 02, 2008 Shane rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone worried about America's dependence on oil.
Shelves: goodreads
This is a truly fascinating book. The man is obviously very smart and successful at what he does. Therefore, it's hard to figure out if he's patting himself on the back, or really trying to share the fruits of his four score years with us.

If you're looking for a book on energy dynamics, policy, and planning, this is the book for you. It's written in a down to Earth manner that makes it accessible to a very wide audience. It gives a good overview of the history of oil and energy in our country. H
Energy, we all need it and we all use it on a daily basis. Where the energy comes from and who is at its source is partially what this book is about. Its primary focus is however on the life and success of T. Boone Pickens a now famous billionaire from Texas. His wealth has been based largely on his success in the oil and gas industry and more recently use of his background to bank roll and fund a highly successful hedge fund which trades in energy stocks.

Based on his experience in the energy b
This book was intriguing for about the first 4 chapters, and his energy plan does hold merit. However, the book quickly became a disorganized mess of events, almost a stream of consciousness from the Boone. (And at his age, that is not a good thing) He tells bizarre stories about how he exercises and how he hired his secretary which seems to have no place in the book, and adds no real substance. As he drones on about being the best in just about everything, the book becomes more and more disjoin ...more
Oct 01, 2008 Aimee rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is not the type of book I'd seek out, but after seeing his "Pickens Plan" commmercials, I wanted to read what he had to say. Chapter 7 should be required reading for all Americans. It is an honest account of the US energy situation, and what can realistically happen if we don't commit to changes NOW. You don't have to be green or environmentally conscious to read this book (or Chpt 7)- you just have to want a better world and better future for your children. I read the entire book so I coul ...more
Boone Pickens is an interesting character and his personality is on full display in this book. The book is outlined by bits of wisdom and advice in the form of "Booneisms"; Pickens then follows each of these with a story that exemplifies it. Like most memoirs the book follows his life chronologically we the readers are dragged along for the ride.

My opinion may be colored by the fact that I listened to the audiobook but sometimes it did seem like a grandpa just rambling old stories. That aside I
Peter Meyers
He started to lose me when he talked about how the government should pick winners and losers in the energy sector. The winner he suggests they pick is of course him and his natural gas. Shows how honest lobbyists can look. I quit reading when he started talking about how generous he is. Valid topic of discussion but don't brag about a billion $ going to OSU athletics as if it was the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

The end of the book might have had something interesting to offer but I'll nev
A quick read with some good info. If you've ever heard Pickens speak, you can imagine him saying everything in each chapter as you read it. It is written as though he dictated the material into a tape recorder. Very matter of fact.

I like that he is lobbying for the U.S. to find an energy policy quickly. He might not have the best plan, but at least he has one.

Booneism #29: "A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan any day."
Oct 06, 2008 Cynthia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, particularly political junkies and business types, but comprehensible to us norma folks
It is great to hear simple explanations about how the economy works from an expert. At 80 years old, while he''s still the same larger than live T. Boone Pickens, some of the edge of the ego is gone. What is left seems to be the beginnings of wisdom, at least on things economic. Particularly in this panic involving arcane financial instruments, Pickens' straight forward explanations about how various sectors of the financial markets work was a breath of fresh air.
I was looking for a book on energy policy and stumbled onto a memoir of a oil tycoon. Lucky for me, it was still an interesting read. I learned a lot about the oil business, the U.S. economy and at the very end I actually got to the energy policy. T. Boone Pickens is a fascinating man, and it translates into a compelling story. I will take his take on things with a grain of salt, but as a book, it was enjoyable.
Rabea Ataya
Pickens is a great example of someone who was able to start over again many times in his life and in each case maintained the enthusiasm and vigor to succeed again. There are valuable lessons in the book about how important regular communication and coordination is (by 9am Pickens has coordinate 3 times with his team), and how useful sport is to keeping a person balanced and productive.
Dan Graham
At 80 years old, Pickens is a role model for the longevity of any entrepreneur. Born in 1928, Pickens has led an interesting life and this book is a retelling of that life — the ups and downs. Pickens philosophy is basically ‘never quit,’ and his life reflects a true following of that philosophy. Not as exciting as Branson’s autobiography but still a worthwhile read.
Jerald Downs
I appreciated the transactional detail and the first hand walk through hallmark 1980's takeover tactics. I can see how Boone epitomized the disruption of a previously accepted corporate status quo and recognized how to harness shareholder's ultimate power whether by lobbying for their support or by becoming the largest one of them.
David J. Andrews
T. Boone Pickens writes in a straight-forward style that I like very much. He's really on to something with his wind energy project. Too bad the countries leaders have not embraced it. We need major federal funding to get this up and running and Pickens understands exactly how to do it. Maybe Obama will make it happen.
Todd Kruse
An excellent motivational book which should inspire the country to re-think our concept of "retirement" plus Mr. Pickens offers his inspiring, personal story regarding how he overcame financial losses, divorce, and depression. If only I had read my copy when he gave it to me in 2009 but better late than never!!
Boone Pickens is quite a character! This was a quick, easy read. He has some good business-management ideas intertwined with his personal stories. And it's got a nice motivational aspect to it as well.

Also, his energy plan is better than what I've heard from anyone else. Hopefully, it will spur some action.
Marc Chase
"A interesting and quick read plainly spoken. Very digestible with interesting perspectives on the oil & gas industry, US dependence on same and a plan to reduce the dependency. Some nice down-home wisdom spun throughout.

Booneism #29: "A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan any day.""
Interesting read. Pickens has made a lot of money during his life. He also lost a lot betting on natural gas in the 80s and 90s. He will finish way up after incredible gains buying oil futures during the oil price run up. He has good ideas to make our country less reliant on Middle East oil.
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